Olympics should inspire over-70s

  • 13 August 2012
  • From the section Scotland

The over-70s should be inspired by the Olympics to take up competitive sport, according to the organisers of a conference in Glasgow this week.

Delegates at the Active Ageing Congress will be told that too few elderly people are playing sport and taking exercise, which leaves them frailer than they need to be.

Dawn Skelton, professor of ageing and health at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: "If you are not fit, you cannot maintain an independent and active lifestyle."

"For example, if you are not fit and you fall, you cannot get up again whereas if you are active, you can."

The recommended amount of exercise for over-75s is 30 minutes of moderate activity every day but delegates at the conference will be told only 7% of UK adults in this age group achieve the recommended level.

"When you are younger, and up to the age of about 60, you have some reserve and you can get away with being a little bit unfit," said Professor Skelton.

"But if you get breathless walking at a slow pace, that is not ill health or disease, that is unfitness."

For those who want an easy way to improve their fitness experts recommend regular walking.

It is accessible, safe, and you do not have to wear lycra.

The conference will also hear from 93-year-old Swiss rowing champion Dr Charles Eugster, who took up the sport at the age of 78.

Dr Eugster has won more than 100 competitions and is now in training to achieve the perfect beach body by the age of 94.

He told BBC Scotland: "Let's face it I'm 93 years old.

"I am one of very few who reach this age, but in 20 to 30 years' time one in every five citizens of any European country will be in their 90s or will have reached a full century. This is an absolutely staggering fact."

Dr Eugster added: "My plan for the next few years is to change the world.

"My trainer and I have shown that it is possible to rebuild bodies at almost any age and any older persons life can be rebuilt.

"It proves that we old are not worthless, we can be recycled and something new made of us.

"I want to unleash the physical and economic potential of the aged. We can be creative and using the talents of the old we can make a major contribution to society so that we are no longer viewed as a liability but a valued asset."

Asked about his vision of the future, Dr Eugster said: "We will soon have beauty kings and beauty queens in the 80 year old category."